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Phi: A Voyage from the Brain to the Soul

by

Phi: A Voyage from the Brain to the Soul Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

This title is printed in full color throughout.

From one of the most original and influential neuroscientists at work today, here is an exploration of consciousness unlike any other — as told by Galileo, who opened the way for the objectivity of science and is now intent on making subjective experience a part of science as well.

Galileo's journey has three parts, each with a different guide. In the first, accompanied by a scientist who resembles Francis Crick, he learns why certain parts of the brain are important and not others, and why consciousness fades with sleep. In the second part, when his companion seems to be named Alturi (Galileo is hard of hearing; his companion's name is actually Alan Turing), he sees how the facts assembled in the first part can be unified and understood through a scientific theory — a theory that links consciousness to the notion of integrated information (also known as phi). In the third part, accompanied by a bearded man who can only be Charles Darwin, he meditates on how consciousness is an evolving, developing, ever-deepening awareness of ourselves in history and culture — that it is everything we have and everything we are.

Not since Gödel, Escher, Bach has there been a book that interweaves science, art, and the imagination with such originality. This beautiful and arresting narrative will transform the way we think of ourselves and the world.

Review:

"Both playful and philosophical, this extravagant book addresses questions about the root of consciousness in a unique way to illustrate Tononi's innovative view of consciousness in terms of information theory, the brain as an integrated network of signals. Professor of neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin, Tononi takes an aging Galileo — and the reader — on a complex intellectual journey in three parts, each led by a prominent scientist. Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, shows Galileo how various portions of the human brain function, both separately and together. Alan Turing, a founder of the science of artificial intelligence, helps Galileo understand how to link these facts into 'a scientific theory of consciousness.' Galileo's third guide is Charles Darwin, who explores how consciousness is evolving. Tononi provides notes at the end of each chapter that expand on the themes raised, and in a voice separate from that of the text's narrator; for example, the book ends with an arcane symbol, and the note comments that this symbol 'must hold some great significance to the author but could not be deciphered.' The book is a visual delight as well as an impressive read, its lavish artwork and literary references demonstrating just how fully complementary art and science can be." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review:

"Giulio Tononi is a man of bold and original mind who has developed a fundamental new theory of consciousness. In Phi, he calls on all the resources of drama, metaphor, and the visual arts to present his scientific insights, in the form of imaginary dialogues in which Galileo meets Francis Crick, Alan Turing, and other major thinkers of the twentieth century. This is an astonishing (and risky) literary device, but Tononi pulls it off triumphantly. He makes the deepest neuroscientific insights come alive." Oliver Sacks, author of Musicophilia

Review:

"You may or may not endorse Giulio Tononi’s views on how the brain generates consciousness, but you can certainly agree that his book is a garden of intellectual delights." Antonio Damasio, author of Self Comes to Mind and Descartes' Error

Review:

"This wonderful book reads like a popcorn novel but informs like a primer on consciousness and where it comes from. By turns exciting, challenging, and thought provoking, Giulio Tononi's marvelous imagination explores the origin of thought, sensation, and feeling. Learning about the difference between the cerebrum and the cerebellum doesn' t sound like fun, but here you encounter them amidst fat friars shouting in vulgar Latin, nymphs of radiant beauty, and a mysterious juggler on a unicycle. I've always taken pride in being a conscious, sentient being; after reading Phi, I'm beginning to understand what it means when I say that!" Leonard Mlodinow, author of Subliminal

Review:

"An original, provocative tale of a scientist's quest to understand how the brain generates consciousness....A challenging, rewarding read that will undoubtedly alter your consciousness." Kirkus

Synopsis:

From one of the most original and influential neuroscientists at work today, an exploration of consciousness unlike any other: the latest science framed in a dazzlingly imaginative, lavishly illustrated narrative.

We would have to go back to Gödel, Escher, Bach to find even the hint of a precedent for this innovative, genre-bending book in which we accompany an elderly scientist, Galileo, on a journey in search of consciousness. His journey has three parts, each with a different guide. In the first part, accompanied by a scientist who resembles Francis Crick, he learns why certain parts of the brain are important and not others, and why consciousness fades with sleep. In the second part, when his companion seems to be named Alturi (Galileo is hard of hearing; his companion's name is actually Alan Turing), he sees how what we know about consciousness might coalesce into a theory of consciousness. In the third part, accompanied by an bearded man who can only be Charles Darwin, he meditates on how consciousness is an evolving, developing, ever-deepening awareness of ourselves in history and culture.

About the Author

Giulio Tononi is a professor of psychiatry, the David P. White Professor of Sleep Medicine, and the Distinguished Chair in Consciousness Science at the University of Wisconsin. In addition to the major scientific journals, his work has appeared in New Scientist, Science Daily, and Scientific American. His research has been the subject of articles in The New York Times and The Economist. He is the coauthor, with Nobel laureate Gerald Edelman, of A Universe of Consciousness.

Table of Contents

CONTENTS

Preface

Prologue

1 The Dream of Galileo

 

Part I: EVIDENCE: Experiments of Nature

 

2 Introduction

Displacements

 

3 Cerebrum

In which is shown that the corticothalamic system generates consciousness

 

4 Cerebellum

In which is shown that the cerebellum, while having more neurons than the cerebrum, does not generate consciousness

 

5 Two Blind Painters

In which is shown that sensory inputs and pathways are not necessary for consciousness

 

6 A Brain Locked In

In which is shown that motor outputs and pathways are not necessary for consciousness, nor are they sufficient

 

7 Empress Without Memory

In which is shown that many brain circuits that help us see, hear, remember, speak, and act are not necessary for consciousness

 

8 A Brain Split

In which is shown that consciousness is divided if the brain is split

 

9 A Brain Conflicted

In which is said that consciousness can split if different regions of the brain refuse to talk to each other

 

10 A Brain Possessed

In which is shown that when cortical neurons fire strongly and synchronously, as during certain seizures, consciousness fades

 

11 A Brain Asleep

In which is shown that when cortical neurons can be on and off only together, as during dreamless sleep, consciousness fades

 

Part II: THEORY: Experiments of Thought

 

12 Introduction

The Enigma of Consciousness

 

13 Galileo and the Photodiode

In which is shown that the humble photodiode can tell light from dark as well as Galileo

 

14 Information: The Manifold Repertoire

In which is shown that the repertoire of possible experiences is as large as one can imagine

 

15 Galileo and the Camera

In which is shown that the sensor of a digital camera has a large repertoire of possible states, perhaps larger than Galileo’s

 

16 Integrated Information: The Many and the One

In which is shown that consciousness lives where information is integrated by a single entity above and beyond its parts

 

17 Galileo and the Bat

In which is feared that the quality of experience cannot be derived from matter

 

18 Seeing Dark (Deconstructing Darkness)

In which is said that darkness does not exist in a void but requires a context

 

19 The Meaning of Dark (Constructing Darkness)

In which is shown that darkness is built of many nested mechanisms that specify what it is not

 

20 The Palace of Light

In which is shown that an experience is a shape made of integrated information

 

21 The Garden of Qualia

In which is said that the universe is mostly dark, but the largest stars are closer than one thinks, if they are looked at with the proper instrument

 

Part III: IMPLICATIONS: A Universe of Consciousness

 

22 Introduction

Sparks and Flames

 

23 Nightfall I: Death

In which is said that, if consciousness is integrated information, it dissolves with death

 

24 Nightfall II: Dementia

In which is said that consciousness disintegrates with dementia

 

25 Nightfall III: Dolor

In which is said that, if the quality of consciousness is a shape made of integrated information, it can be turned into the only real and eternal Hell

 

26 Twilight I: Consciousness Diminished

In which is said that consciousness can be present in the absence of language and reflection

 

27 Twilight II: Consciousness Evolving

In which is said that animals are conscious, too

 

28 Twilight III: Consciousness Developing

In which is said that consciousness must be present, to some degree, even before birth

 

29 Daylight I: Consciousness Exploring

In which is said that, by investigating nature, new qualia are discovered

 

30 Daylight II: Consciousness Imagining

In which is said that art and imagination invent new shapes within the mind

 

31 Daylight III: Consciousness Growing

In which is said that, by growing consciousness, the universe comes more into being, the synthesis of one and many

 

32 Epilogue

Three Late Dreams

 

33 Afterthoughts

Study Questions

 

Acknowledgments

Illustration Credits

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307907219
Author:
Tononi, Giulio
Publisher:
Pantheon Books
Subject:
Neuropsychology
Subject:
Philosophy : General
Publication Date:
20120831
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS THROUGHOUT
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
9.51 x 6.48 x 1.2 in 2.44 lb

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Phi: A Voyage from the Brain to the Soul New Hardcover
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Product details 384 pages Pantheon - English 9780307907219 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Both playful and philosophical, this extravagant book addresses questions about the root of consciousness in a unique way to illustrate Tononi's innovative view of consciousness in terms of information theory, the brain as an integrated network of signals. Professor of neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin, Tononi takes an aging Galileo — and the reader — on a complex intellectual journey in three parts, each led by a prominent scientist. Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, shows Galileo how various portions of the human brain function, both separately and together. Alan Turing, a founder of the science of artificial intelligence, helps Galileo understand how to link these facts into 'a scientific theory of consciousness.' Galileo's third guide is Charles Darwin, who explores how consciousness is evolving. Tononi provides notes at the end of each chapter that expand on the themes raised, and in a voice separate from that of the text's narrator; for example, the book ends with an arcane symbol, and the note comments that this symbol 'must hold some great significance to the author but could not be deciphered.' The book is a visual delight as well as an impressive read, its lavish artwork and literary references demonstrating just how fully complementary art and science can be." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "Giulio Tononi is a man of bold and original mind who has developed a fundamental new theory of consciousness. In Phi, he calls on all the resources of drama, metaphor, and the visual arts to present his scientific insights, in the form of imaginary dialogues in which Galileo meets Francis Crick, Alan Turing, and other major thinkers of the twentieth century. This is an astonishing (and risky) literary device, but Tononi pulls it off triumphantly. He makes the deepest neuroscientific insights come alive."
"Review" by , "You may or may not endorse Giulio Tononi’s views on how the brain generates consciousness, but you can certainly agree that his book is a garden of intellectual delights."
"Review" by , "This wonderful book reads like a popcorn novel but informs like a primer on consciousness and where it comes from. By turns exciting, challenging, and thought provoking, Giulio Tononi's marvelous imagination explores the origin of thought, sensation, and feeling. Learning about the difference between the cerebrum and the cerebellum doesn' t sound like fun, but here you encounter them amidst fat friars shouting in vulgar Latin, nymphs of radiant beauty, and a mysterious juggler on a unicycle. I've always taken pride in being a conscious, sentient being; after reading Phi, I'm beginning to understand what it means when I say that!"
"Review" by , "An original, provocative tale of a scientist's quest to understand how the brain generates consciousness....A challenging, rewarding read that will undoubtedly alter your consciousness."
"Synopsis" by , From one of the most original and influential neuroscientists at work today, an exploration of consciousness unlike any other: the latest science framed in a dazzlingly imaginative, lavishly illustrated narrative.

We would have to go back to Gödel, Escher, Bach to find even the hint of a precedent for this innovative, genre-bending book in which we accompany an elderly scientist, Galileo, on a journey in search of consciousness. His journey has three parts, each with a different guide. In the first part, accompanied by a scientist who resembles Francis Crick, he learns why certain parts of the brain are important and not others, and why consciousness fades with sleep. In the second part, when his companion seems to be named Alturi (Galileo is hard of hearing; his companion's name is actually Alan Turing), he sees how what we know about consciousness might coalesce into a theory of consciousness. In the third part, accompanied by an bearded man who can only be Charles Darwin, he meditates on how consciousness is an evolving, developing, ever-deepening awareness of ourselves in history and culture.

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